Tom J Newell

We sat down to talk shop with our buddy, Tom J Newell. He recently did this jaw-dropping design for our latest item over at Galvanize Goods Co.

Tom, if your memory serves you well, do you remember a moment in time where something clicked and this felt like the right path for you?

My memory has never really served me that well, so I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t have the urge to draw. I was encouraged from an early age and it was the path that I always found myself back on no matter which way I turned.

Recently, we’ve seen that you’ve been doing a great number of murals. Do you have a preference for murals or paper? Or do you appreciate each canvas for what it is?

The variety keeps everything fresh. Each discipline informs the other, so I always jump at the chance to get out of the studio and work in a different way.


What’s your creative process like for traditional smaller-scale illustration pieces vs. doing a mural?

It depends on the specific project, but I think something that I produce at home on paper will generally go through more stages of development than a mural. The large-scale pieces seem to evolve as I’m working on them and mistakes become new directions.

One frustration that artists often encounter is the “creative block”. When that block happens, how do you get the creativity flowing?

I’ve never had too much trouble with that, but it’s never advisable to stare at a blank piece of paper for too long. I try not to actively look at other illustration for inspiration. Obviously illustrators see each others’ work, but I think it’s important to feed something different into it.


The phrase, “You never stop learning.” often comes to mind for me. How do you plan to continue to grow and learn as an artist?

I’d like to try and embrace more technology. Hug the TV and maybe try out one of those graphics tablet gizmos.

Are there any creative minds that you admire?

Madlib. He’s one of my favorite musicians and his work ethic and creative output are constantly inspiring.


What do you like to do outside of illustration?

Play music, listen to music, collect records, mess around on turntables, hang about with my girlfriend, and ride around on my bicycle.


Where or how do most of your clients find you?

Mostly people see everything online these days, which makes it so much more satisfying when someone tells you they’ve seen something that you have drawn in a bar or a gallery in real-life.

Can you give our readers some creative advice from an illustrator’s perspective?

Pick two things that have never been drawn together before and draw them together. If one of the things that you picked is a wolf then pick something else.

Any big plans for 2013?

I’ll be painting a lot more murals, exhibiting work in more group shows, and I’m currently finishing off some artwork for another favorite musician of mine. All will be gradually revealed across a plethora of online locations and actual places in real-life. Thanks!

You can grab the hoodie that Tom did for us over at Galvanize Goods Co.

Brian Beavers

Hi, I'm Brian Beavers, a ui designer and creative writer from the nation's capital. I spend my free-time drawing, reading comic books, playing soccer, and at the park with Gia, Project Galvanize's mascot. I am always looking to get involved in creative projects or to just chat about design and other fun stuff. You can follow me on twitter, view our work at Galvanize Creative LLC, or reach me at

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